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Mochokiella paynei  Howes, 1980                               

his is the only representative of the Mochokiella genus in the Mochokidae family. It was described by Dr.Gordon Howes of the Natural History Museum in London with a specimen provided in 1980 by Steve Pritchard a friend and fellow member of the Catfish Study Group

Mochokiella paynei


It is very close to the Synodontis species but can be told apart by its very long branched barbels ( outer mandibular = 3 branches, inner mandibular = 4 ) and its comparatively small size. It is also very much like in appearance, the genus Microsynodontis, but as mentioned before they have longer mandibular barbels, a larger eye, smaller adipose fin and a forked caudal fin, whereas the Microsynodontis genus has a rounded caudal and smaller eyes.

It likes clean water with low nitrates, so keep up the monthly water changes in your aquarium.

If affordable purchase more than one individual as I'm sure this species would be a prime candidate for a determined and successful breeder in the future.

Mochokiella paynei

Above picture shows the branched barbels unique to this species

Head markedly curved, snout rounded. Mouth small, lower lip not developed as in Synodontis. Eye supero-lateral. Humeral process elongate and pointed, almost as long as the pectoral fin, barbels with unilateral branching.

Mottled, reticulated dark brown markings on beige-creamy background. Most distinctive are the dark bands across the head and those linking the eye with the nostrils and corner of the mouth. The anterier part of the body is uniformly dark but posteriorly is reticulate. Particularly noticeable is the diagonal stripe from the rear of the adipose fin to the anal fin. The adipose fin has a light border, all other fins are barred and blotched. All barbels are barred.

This catfish is an excellent addition to any community tank. It can be very secretive during the day but is certainly happier if you furnish the aquarium with hiding places such as bogwood/logs, pipes or rockwork. You can then see it occasionally with such a set-up.  

Not known. Females are rounder in the body than males.

Will take most prepared aquarium foods such as frozen bloodworm, whiteworm, shrimp, prawns, tablet food, flake and pellets.

Mochokiella: From the Latin -ella; in reference to the small size of the fish (literally: "a small Mochokus").
paynei : named after its discoverer, Dr. Payne, in a rain forest creek in Sierra Leone.

Burgess E. Warren Dr. An Atlas of Freshwater and Marine Catfishes, 1989.
Baench, Aquarium Atlas 2, 1993.
Sands, David. Catfishes of the World Vol2.,1983.
Howes, G.J. 1980 A new catfish from Sierra Leone. Bull. Br./Mus. Nat. Hist. (Zool) 38(3): 165-170

Photo Credits


Top & Bottom image:  ©  Hippocampus Bildarchiv  

Middle image: Allan James @ ScotCat

Factsheet 039

Common Name:
Payne's Catfish
Sierra Leone  Sierra Leone, Africa: type locality, Kassawe Forest Reserve, Sierra Leone.
8cm. (3¼ins)
22-26°C (71-80°F)    
6.2 - 7.5
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                                                                                                                                               Factsheet 39= updated December 14, 2018 , © ScotCat 1997-2018 Go to Top